It’s official. Pigs can fly.

…and Honda has them flying in formation, too: they’ve finally made a real dual purpose motorcycle!

It’s light, it’s powerful, and it’s built from the parts bin for the CRF450R motocross racer. Throw in a six-speed transmission, address the vibration issues, build it with the Honda reputation for reliability…make it street legal….


Just announced: the 2019 CRF450L

  • At 131 kilograms (289 pounds) wet, it’s about 40 pounds less than the KTM 690 Adventure; it’s even lighter than the Yamaha WR250R!
  • No power specs yet, but it’s based on the CRF450R which makes in the neighbourhood of 60 hp. A horsepower figure of 25 is floating around the Web, but we’re certain to see that misprint disappear soon.
  • Wide-ratio six-speed transmission
  • Fuel injected
  • Keyed ignition
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Cush-drive rear hub
  • LED lighting with an upgraded generator for extra electrification
  • High capacity radiators with thermostat-controlled fan
  • Compression and rebound adjustability at both ends
  • Aluminum frame
  • Engine oil capacity looks like about 1.8 litres
  • Fuel capacity 2 US gallons
  • Electric start
  • Rubber-mounted handlebars
  • Engine counterbalancer

It’s the real deal — on paper, at least, which is the only place normal humans will see it until models hit the showroom this autumn.

Honda CRF450L

I’ve been waiting a long time for the new pigs

When Honda killed off the Big Red Pig (the XR650R), last seen in the wilds in 2007, all that was left for frustrated adventure and dual-sport riders was the Jurassic-era XR650L.

The big-H engineers eventually picked up on the angry drumming from the jungle ’round about 2013, and gave us the CRF250L — a 146 kg (322 pound) machine generating a ground-pounding 23 horsepower. (Sorry: I can’t find the “irony” emoji, so you’re going to have to trust me when I say the jungle was underwhelmed….)

Round three: the return of the 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin

A new pig started prowling the forests in 2016; it added about 70 horsepower, so there were no snide comments about the new Africa Twin’s power. I rode it, and it’s fun.

It’s also north of 225 kg (500 pounds).

How about enough power to make serious miles — and enough anti-gravity to ride some serious terrain?

That’s what we’ve all been asking, isn’t it?

The big adventure bikes handle the big miles, and the KTMs and BMWs are notable for handling the big terrain, too. But even the Japanese bikes have been on the butter-cream diet, and all these adventure tankers seem to get more bloated every year.

The Yamaha WR250R, at 134 kg (295 pounds), has become the go-to bike for many disaffected dual sport riders looking for something more svelte. However, the price of entry for this one is repeated ear-piercing redline runs every time you hit the pavement.

The Husqvarna 701 Enduro claims a dry weight about 30 pounds more than the Honda’s wet weight — though it does offer a bunch more punch.

Then there’s the rumoured Yamaha Tenere 700 and KTM’s new 790. Neither has landed yet, so I can’t tell you if those particular pigs are going to fly or not….

I’m just going for a quick ride. And then I need to change my oil. And filter. And clean my air filter. And…

At the lighter end of the adventure spectrum lie some sweet, slim rides. I’ve had a high-strung Husqvarna (TE 510), lusted after the KTM EXCs, eyed the Husabergs and the Betas.

But maintenance intervals are a deal-breaker when your itinerary includes multi-day rides with no access to WalMart’s automotive aisle.

I’d like you to meet an old friend

The Suzuki DR650 and DRZ400 and the Kawasaki KLR650 have a deservedly loyal following — but even loyalty can be tested by designs that remain the same decade after decade.

Enter the CRF450L

There’s not much missing with Honda’s new offering. It promises the light weight performance of the exotics, the reliability of Mr. Honda and the throttle roll-on gut punch of the motocross CRF450R.



Obviously, range will be an issue, and the nifty asymmetrical titanium tank and fuel injection aren’t going to make it any easier or cheaper for aftermarket manufacturers to create a bigger version of the tank. A fuel bladder, bottles or RotopaX may be in your future. Then again, I think the aftermarket is going to be all over this bike; it has that kind of potential.

Wind protection can be easily added, as can soft luggage options offered by brands like Giant Loop, Wolfman, Mosko Moto and others. Racks are sure to hit the market before long.

The only other thought I have is to add an oil cooler to increase the 1.8 litre oil capacity and further reduce service intervals.

And then you can fly in formation with the legions of other adventure riders on the bike we’ve all been waiting for!

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4 Replies to “It’s official. Pigs can fly.”

  1. Awesome! Me like! That’s only 6kg heavier than my Yamaha XT350 was!

    1. This bike could be a game changer, right? I should be winning the lottery soon, so I’ll get you a couple.

  2. “they’ve finally made a real dual purpose motorcycle!”

    Humbug. You’ve not heard of the nx250 then?? 😜

    1. You got me: I am rather Scrooge-like. But I’ve never actually witnessed an NX250 in the flesh, and only occasionally seen one advertised for sale. I think they were mostly available outside the North American market. Is that correct? What can you tell me about them? Similar to, say, a Yamaha XT225?

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